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GUEST COLUMNIST | Easter and Pentecost

At Easter morning brunch, one of my daughters brought me a beautiful bouquet of tulips.

They were so welcome and so extraordinary that I took extra good care of them. I changed their water, recut their stems and used the little packet of powder the florist sent. I placed them where I could see them at dinner time and near where I pray in the morning.

And they began to open. One morning, I peered inside a bright yellow and orange tulip and saw the stamen reaching out toward me. The inner workings of my tulip seemed to be bursting forth from the slowly opening flower. In the morning light, with the tulip nearly translucent, I suddenly saw in my tulip a tomb being opened, a little symbol of resurrection. The tomb was empty, and the stamen and pistil seemed to be radiating from the empty tomb as if to proclaim that the Risen One, who had been held there so recently, had gone before us into Galilee. It was a lovely, graced moment.

But here’s the thing. Easter Sunday is many days ago now, and tulips don’t last forever. Mine began to open too broadly and fray a bit at the edges. They bent over and lost their lovely shape. Like our own lives on this earth, they were finite and passing. But they had done what they had come to do, proclaim a daughter’s love and provide beauty and a moment of inspiration.

Could we say the same about our own passing lives?

The time between Easter Sunday and Pentecost is so special, but sometimes I fear we leave the Easter season behind us too quickly. Lent gave us something to “do.” We gave something up, we tried to go to morning Mass, we experienced the incredible beauty of Holy Thursday and Good Friday services.

Even our secular culture reminds us of Easter, with the jelly beans and bunnies popping up as soon as Valentine’s Day is over. But on Easter Monday, stores immediately put the basket paraphernalia on sale.

I think the time between Easter and Pentecost, the actual Easter season, is when the real Christian in us is challenged. Rather than “do” something, be silent. Reread all the amazing readings from the Gospels of John and Luke. Walk into the garden with Mary and be amazed when the person you thought was the gardener calls you by name. Take a long walk, and imagine you, too, are heading for a getaway in Emmaus. Talk with that man who walks beside you. Put your fingers, like Thomas, into the scars left on the body of Jesus. Rejoice in this incredibly tactile, bodily faith we live.

There won’t be any advertisements for Pentecost baskets or Pentecost wrapping paper. You won’t be hurrying to get your Pentecost letters out to all your friends. But Pentecost comes, with its fire and wind, to inspire us with the Holy Spirit. Imagine those in that room on Pentecost morning, some of them men who had fled during the crucifixion. Imagine Peter, who denied three times knowing Jesus and then wept bitterly, becoming a man willing to be crucified himself.

Pentecost comes 50 days after Easter, Sunday, May 19, this year. The days, like all our passing days, will fly. Let us use them to experience the hope and glory of resurrection.

Effie Caldarola is a columnist for Catholic News Service.

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